Pushing the Mental Barrier – 3 marathons, 3 days

There was a plan for this weekend and it wasn’t to run 3 marathons in 3 days.  My overall plan was to test my endurance to see if I could run on very tired legs over the weekend to get my head around the fact that I will eventually be running/walking a huge distance in the not too distant future and I CAN DO IT – but only if I know how my body will feel.  I felt like this when I was training for my first marathon.  I had every intention of running the marathon distance just to get my head around the fact that I CAN run a marathon. 

Physically I’m very different from when first started running but mentally I’m still right back at the start wondering where things could go wrong – disaster planning!! The distances have changed but the mentality hasn’t.  I should know better by now but because I’m pushing my own boundaries I’m constantly in this state of preparation for the unknown. 

For instance – couch to 5k training.  That was seriously tough and I couldn’t manage it in a group so I did my own thing and eventually got there on my own.  A few 5k events later and I wanted something more to challenge me. 

10k training.  6 miles!!!! That’s a LONG way!  Training for this distance was not as easy as the 5k.  It took a lot more effort and self control to keep up the pace for a 1 hour finish.  I’m still not that much faster which bugs the hell out of me.  Seriously, I’ve done ALL this training and I’m still no better than 4 years ago.  Sigh! Now I know I can cover the distance now so what next to challenge me? 

Half marathon training – 13.1 miles CRIKEY!! That’s almost running from home to work! That’s a REALLY long way! Even more self control and now there’s this whole fuel thing.  Gels/drinks/jelly beans/sweets and more to think of.  Oh dear the stomach upsets.  The planning for this got easier with each event, what next? 

Marathon training – Oh my goodness!  Running to work AND running back home distance!  That’s just nuts!! There’s NO WAY I could manage THAT distance.  The training for this again was now so varied and personal I got lost in a sea of advice.  I wasn’t fast enough to keep up with the rest that were training and speed didn’t like me at all.  I finally found marathon distance events that were more mentally challenging than physical and now that distance was conquered. 

Ultra training – Oh COME ON!! Seriously!! You might as well DRIVE that distance!  What the hell are you thinking going 30/40/50/60/100 miles for anyway!! ON FOOT! That’s what I would have said if I hadn’t already experienced and trained for the other distances.  I wanted another challenge, to push myself further yet again.  Each ultra is a completely different experience due to the terrain and support during these events.  Training for these events is far more fun, yep, fun!! A 10ish mile run around the countryside to test new shoes/equipment/fueling and more.  A couple hours on my feet to see what distance I can cover and how I feel with a different fuel source or running pack.  So much more to plan for!!

I’m stronger, fitter and trying to become wiser.  Speed is an ever elusive demon that I keep chasing and yet I still want that next challenge.  To see how far I can push myself mentally and physically.  None of this has been an overnight whim, far from it! 

This weekend has been very enlightening.  I shouldn’t be surprised that I have managed to run 3 marathons in 3 days but I am.  I trained, I prepared and I most certainly have all the gear!! Although I’d like to think I’m still missing a few items to excuse myself for buying more gear! 

The weekend started with a Good Friday Marathon at Caldecotte late to run Max’s 100th marathon.  I could have stayed with Max but she had a lot of company already so I ran my own marathon.  A nice steady, easy marathon pace.  Halfway around the third lap my wonderful husband had brought Penny to the lake to run a lap with me.  I’m not sure if that was a good or bad thing as my steady pace went up to full on RUN LIKE HELL pace.  At least it was only for a lap!  The rest of the marathon went back to nice n steady with a very surprising finish of 4hrs 59mins.  Nice one.  Lots of layers on and a roller stick to massage my legs whilst waiting for Max to finish.  Gosh it was emotional.  So much support from such a wonder club.  It was wonderful to see so many people there for Max. 

Saturday – Northampton Cakeathon.  Another lap event.  Plan = Run a minimum of two laps and see how you feel.  If you feel wrecked, stop and go home to rest.  If you feel okay(ish) keep going till you don’t feel okay anymore.  What happened?  I kept going, and going, and going, and going!! Lap 6 was a bit much but it was manageable to get to the marathon distance.  I even had enough time to do an ultra distance but thought that might be pushing it a bit.  Marathon time 5hrs 51mins – My usual marathon time.  Nice one. 

Sunday – Northampton Chocathon.  Same place, same laps.  Plan = If I didn’t run a marathon yesterday run a marathon today.  If I did run a marathon yesterday run a minimum of two laps and see how you feel.  Well, I didn’t feel too broken so kept going.  3 laps – this isn’t too bad.  4 laps – it hurts but no worse than a usual marathon hurt!  5 laps – okay, this hurts but it’s only one more lap for a marathon.  Lap 6 – Wheels fell off, picked up some company and laughed/walked the way around the last lap.  It was painful but hilarious! 

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I honestly did not think I would manage it.  I honestly thought I would feel wrecked or tired at the start of each day but oddly enough I didn’t.  Yes I felt a bit tired like I hadn’t slept properly but nothing more than that.  Once I started running I felt fine.  Like it was a gentle run to stretch the legs.  Best bit about this weekend – I’ve completely thrown disaster brain into a spin.  It was completely wrong about this weekend.  My planning and mental expectations for each day were perfect to keep me moving until I felt it was too much.  Another challenge accomplished. 

Now it’s back to more training, more strength training and planning for the next event. 

Enjoy 😊

2 comments

  1. Well done Helen! Another fab piece, and more importantly, another great achievement- 3 in 3 is mental!!! So come on, share, what is the next event! And how many mara/ultras are you up to? x

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